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Learn The What, Why & How Of Google Analytics

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Google Analytics has slowly shown businesses, whether big companies or one-man shops, how important it is to have Google analytics tracking your website traffic. It can, in a nutshell, help the decision-makers take the guesswork out of growing the business.

Google analytics answers

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If you are new to Google analytics, then you have come to the right place. Let us break it down so that it is easier to understand the workings and offerings of Google Analytics.

What is Google Analytics?

Google analytics

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Google analytics is a free + premium web analytics service that tracks and reports website activity. The services offered are enough for most businesses who can utilize them to its fullest and need not go for any of the paid analytic tools. Google acquired a company ‘Urchin Software Corp’ in 2005 and developed the web analytics service from their ‘Urchin on Demand’ and since then has been one of the most widely used web analysis service on the Internet.

The slogan of Google Analytics says “Turning data insights into action” which it does extremely well if you know what you want and how to go about it.

The What?

Google analytics time tracking

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What can Google Analytics do for you, is the question many of the beginners would have. Well, let’s see – the no. of people visiting your site daily, the time they spend on each page and overall on the site, which page did they leave your website from, whether they added to your measured conversion metric, where-from in this world do they come from, how they reached your website. These are just a few of the questions that Google analytics can answer. There are bigger insights it can provide depending on the level of complexity you are ready to go. Depending on what kind of results you want to see, you can optimize your reporting as such with profile segmentation’s and customized dashboards.

The Why?

Google Analytics  goal conversion tracking

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Now, many of the initial users get overwhelmed with the amount of data they see and are unable to process the use for it in their minds. But, in case you do reach that stage, don’t panic. Instead get an expert on board. Because the reason why you should be using Google Analytics is to save you a ton of time which you could better utilize in planning a move based on the insights you gain. And getting overwhelmed and getting off it is not an option I would recommend. Test the waters with an expert in Google Analytics and see the kinds of returns it fetches you, not just monetary but even traffic, conversions, downloads, leads generation, and now imagine how much time, money and effort you would need to spend to get this done traditionally. This is where allocating a budget for the website analysis will reap results.

The How?

How Google Analytics works

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On the technical side of how it works, in the most simplest sense there is a Javascript code on each of the page of the website, a data collection service on Google servers, and a processing engine that creates the report data.

But, on a general note what you need to know of how Google analytics works are the four main components:

  1. Data Collection: It collects user interaction data from websites, mobile apps, and digitally connected environments through their JS code. One packet of information is called as a hit or an interaction. So when a user views a page tagged with the Google Analytics code, it is termed as a hit/an interaction.
  2. Configuration: When you apply filters to your raw data, it is setting up a configuration.
  3. Data Processing: Once the website starts tracking the hits, the data gets processed as per the configuration and gets transformed into meaningful data. Data once processed gets stored in a database and cannot be changed thereafter.
  4. Reporting: Reporting of your data can be either kept to the default setting where Google Analytics will show generic reports, or you can customize it to metrics that are useful for your decision making.

The When?

Most of the tracking that Google analytics does is done as soon as you hit enter for a page address. Since the Google Analytics code is an asynchronous code, which means it runs simultaneously to the page loading. Due to this, even a two second visit gets recorded. Thus, it tracks all traffic instantaneously. Unless you blocked Google Analytics from running and tracking your information, Google will place cookies in your browser which will capture your actions on the browsers and send these details to Google Analytics. In case you are browsing from a phone or tablet, then this information gets stored and it is sent to Google Analytics once internet connectivity is available. For the most part, the reports are in real time and accurate. There might be pockets due to delayed reports from mobile browsers and blocked IPs but they are an extremely small percentage which cannot really harm your insights.

Google Analytics reports

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Now, that you are familiar with the benefits of what all Google analytics  can do for you, just dive right in and use all the online forum expertise to improve upon your website success using Google Analytics.

Image Credits: sankhalainfo.co.in, cutroni.com, campaign monitor

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